Back-to-School Essentials: What to Pack in Your Kids’ Backpack

Back-to-School Essentials: What to Pack in Your Kids’ Backpack

The heat may still be rising, but the summer is winding down as many children get ready to return to school in August and September. While families are crossing school supplies off their lists, shopping for back-to-school clothes and planning for meals in the lunchroom, there are a few extra essentials to keep in mind when preparing for the first day.

“What should I pack in my child’s backpack?” is a common question for parents, but often an after-thought to the other priorities. There’s a fine line between giving kids what they might need and unnecessarily overpacking, especially for younger kids who may struggle with the weight of the bag.

To help keep it top of mind and save the extra stress, the Bug Bite Thing team compiled a list of backpack basics to prep for the big day.

7 Backpack Must-Haves for Kids of All Ages
Here is your backpack checklist beyond the typical classroom supplies required by the school:

Refillable water bottle
1. Refillable water bottle
Two words: leak-proof. Whether your child is in preschool or high school, a water bottle is necessary to pack. Keep your kid hydrated by encouraging all-day sips from an age-appropriate bottle that they can manage on their own without spills! We love the Pura Stainless bottles for littles, Owala FreeSip for older kids and teens, and the Yeti Rambler for anyone and everyone in between.

Contact info
2. Contact info
No matter how old your child is, having a handy emergency contact card in their backpack is a safety-must. Include their name, address, phone number, emergency contact, allergies and medication. There’s no need for anything fancy – a simple notecard is fine – though laminating it can help with wear and tear. Adding a photo can also provide extra support for lost bags or emergencies.

Extra clothes
3. Extra clothes
Tailor this tip to your child’s age and development, but trust us when we say at least a few extra items can come in handy. From an extra set of lightweight, easy-to-pack clothes, or just one item like undergarments or a jacket you can roll up, packing extra clothing within a small wet bag can save your kid when there’s an unexpected spill or accident, as well as when that air conditioning is pumping!

Bug Bite Thing
4. Bug Bite Thing
When your kids go out to play at recess, so do the mosquitoes and ants. If your child knows how to safely use the Bug Bite Thing on their own (tips here, if needed!) keep our simple suction tool in one of the small pockets of a backpack. The reusable, toxin-free tool will give them more confidence when they get an insect bite or sting during recess or on their way to or from school, as many schools do not allow medications like topical creams without a doctor’s note.

Hand sanitizer
5. Hand sanitizer
Not a lot of explanation needed here, but while we hope our kids are washing their hands often throughout the day, a small bottle of hand sanitizer helps with good hygiene in a pinch for students who are old enough to use it on their own.

6. Snack
If you’ve been home with your kids all summer, you’ve probably heard enough about snacks, #amiright? Along with your child’s lunch and regular snacks, it can be helpful to add a small, nonperishable snack like a granola bar or gummies as a backup. They’ll thank you in case there’s a day *someone* forgets to pack them or they get extra hungry on the way to after school activities.

7. Money
If you can manage it, store an extra $1, $5 or $20 within a small pouch in your child’s backpack. If your child will use it wisely, let them know it is on hand in case of emergency. Maybe they forgot about a fundraiser at school or left their lunchbox behind on the bus and need to buy it in the cafeteria, but whatever the reason, a little extra cash is worth packing for times of need.

Bonus: Want to make a good impression on day-one? Pack a simple first-day gift for teachers that are designed to make them smile. Rather than going the standard coffee cup or apple route, choose two or three items you know they’ll put to use. Some of our favorite goodies include a Bug Bite Thing, mini sticky notes, colorful washi tape, pretty pens, snacks and Liquid IV hydration packets. For ideas on how to present it, check out this Reel from @themamanotes, who uses measuring tape to tie it all together.

Keep in mind that this list covers some of the items that have worked well for us over the years, but it is not one-size-fits-all. Some kids might do well with a mini first aid kit, whereas tweens and teens might require chargers or power cords to keep up with their devices. The trick is to use this back-to-school list as a starting point and find what works for your family!

Need to stock up before school starts? We have super-fast, free shipping on, but if you want to be sure of one-day shipping, check out our Amazon store, which also features our range of hues to color-coordinate your kids items or teacher gift. 😉

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